Mission Statement

Youth Theatre Interactions, Inc. (YTI) provides professional instruction in the performing arts to Westchester County youth. With the support and participation of their parents, YTI nurtures creativity and pride in accomplishment while fostering discipline, confidence, and critical thinking in young people. Empowered by these attributes, our youth will become positive contributors to society. Furthermore, they will possess the skills necessary to proceed into the professional arts community.


In 1971, the Yonkers Community Action Program was asked to develop an after-school program that would help keep kids away from drugs and crime. James P. Hill, an employee of YCAP and professional musician, developed the School 12 Program, which began as a music workshop. Shortly after, Mr. Hill met Paul Kwame Johnson, then a theater major at Sarah Lawrence College. Mr. Johnson added his expertise to establish a new drama workshop to the program.


In 1973, Hill and Johnson along with co-founder Turhan Von Brandon sought non-profit status for their program and renamed it Youth Theatre Interactions, Inc. (YTI), a performing arts school providing instruction free of charge to the youth of Yonkers.


As interest and funding grew, the program was expanded to include dance workshops, photography, training in lighting design, sound and stage management.


Today YTI provides instruction in drama, digital production, voice, music, and six different forms of dance. These services are provided at a modest fee to youth from all over Westchester County.


Youth Theatre Interactions, Inc. is generously supported by the following organizations



  • Develop the artistic abilities of our students by encouraging full use of their creative potential

  • Instill an understanding and appreciation of the power of the arts

  • Promote the arts as a tool to develop students’ interpersonal and critical thinking skills

  • Encourage parents to participate in his or her child’s personal growth and artistic development

  • Maximize the connection between YTI students and the real world of the performing and arts by:

    1. Employing professional artists as instructors
    2. Providing workshops that prepare students for professional auditions
    3. Exposing students to stage management and production techniques as part of their performance experience
    4. Provide performance opportunities in a variety of diverse venues

Staff & Board

  • Founders
  • Board
  • Executive/Artistic Director

James P. Hill

Paul Kwame Johnson

Turhan Von Brandon


Board of Directors

Miriam Lovett – Board President
Ricardo Lima – Treasurer
Chelsea P. Freeman – Secretary
George Asante
Brenda Gray
Rashida Heslop
Deborah Hudson-Jenkins
Jodi-Ann Lyons
Ricardo Lima
Berlina Mallebranche
India-Rae Tuthill

Suzanne Newman – Ex-Officio

Advisory Board

Patricia Adams, Turhan Von Brandon, Judith Z. Matson, Rev. DeForest Raphael, Paula Redd-Zeman, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Tom O’Keefe, Genia Flammia

Donise C. Lyons

dahciasisterDonise C. Lyons, the Executive/Artistic Director of Youth Theatre Interactions, Inc. (YTI) implements the strategic goals and objectives of YTI, conceives, develops and implements the artistic vision and focus of the organization, and represents YTI to various stakeholders on the local, statewide, and national level.

Donise is a YTI alumna and has been a part of this organization since 1998.  After leaving YTI, Donise went on to the University at Buffalo where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre, with a concentration in performance, and Communication, with a certification in Public Relations and Advertising.  Once she completed her undergraduate education, Donise went on to become a New York City Teaching Fellows and receive her Master of Science degree in Urban Education.  She spent five years as New York City public school teacher, working primarily with special education students in the South Bronx.  Throughout her tenure as a public school teacher, Donise remained a staunch advocate of arts integration in the classroom, and specifically tailored her curriculum to allow students performance opportunities.

Donise is a living representation of the impact Youth Theatre Interactions, Inc. has on youth in our community.  She credits the eight years she spent as a student at YTI with helping to develop her work ethic; her appreciation of the intrinsic value of the Arts; and most importantly her sense of self-worth.  Donise’s goal is to continue building YTI into a driving force in performing arts education in Westchester County.